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Higher Education

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the purpose is of her review of the postcode premium in higher education; and if she will make a statement. [31976]

Margaret Hodge: The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is currently reviewing the postcode premium and will be consulting on widening participation, including the focus of the premium, later in the spring.

Departmental Salary Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of the departmental expenditure limit in 2001–02 will be accounted for by salary costs and pension contributions. [32013]

Estelle Morris: Salary costs and pension contributions account for 0.72 per cent. of the total resource budget departmental expenditure limit for the Department for Education and Skills for 2001–02.

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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what plans she has to increase the training of teachers and classroom assistants dealing with children with autism in mainstream schools; [31888]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: In order to acquire qualified teacher status (QTS), all trainee teachers must, as part of their initial teacher training, demonstrate that they can identify pupils with special educational needs (SEN). This includes those who may have autistic spectrum disorders.

The Government have made a significant investment in support of SEN. Through the Department's standards fund 2001–02, we are supporting local expenditure of £82 million on SEN. One of the expenditure headings is in-service training and development of teachers, and other staff, including learning support assistants. In 2002–03, we are increasing this investment to £91 million. Training will again be a major component, extended to cover training in disability, as well as SEN, in order to help schools and local education authorities prepare for their responsibilities under the Special Education Needs and Disability Act 2001, and the implementation of the new SEN Code of Practice.

In addition, the Department has also introduced in 2002–03 two new funding streams specifically to support the creation of new training opportunities and resources for teachers, and other staff, linked to a number of key priorities. One of these is supporting those who work with pupils with learning difficulties, including pupils with autistic spectrum disorders. Competitive bids have been invited from voluntary organisations, as part of the Department's SEN small programmes fund, and from higher education institutions, under the new SEN training and development fund. £2 million will able available under these initiatives.

With regard to advertising campaigns, the Government have introduced a significant number of recruitment measures to help schools to recruit the teachers they need. The grant that my Department provides the Teacher Training Agency to enable it to discharge its functions includes funding to cover advertising costs. The standards fund support I have referred to assists teachers to acquire specialist knowledge.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what she is doing to promote Autism Awareness year. [31890]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Secretary of State welcomes initiatives which aim to improve our knowledge and understanding of autism and raise awareness of the condition. Better outcomes for children with autism are encouraged by early identification and intervention to meet their special educational needs. In 2002, the Department for Education and Skills will be publishing guidance for schools, local education authorities and others which will include pointers to good practice on provision for children with autism, including early identification. The Department will continue to work with

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the National Autistic Society and other interested parties to raise awareness of autism and improve provision for children with the condition.

Hardship Loans

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what arrangements are in place to ensure that higher education students' eligibility for hardship loans is consistent between institutions. [32734]

Margaret Hodge: My Department produces guidance for institutions on hardship loans each year. The guidance is intended to help administrators target the support effectively. It also helps to ensure that institutions deal with applications on a broadly consistent basis, while giving them the flexibility to meet individual students' needs.


Compliance Costs

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the one year projects on taxes and duties other than VAT or corporation tax, referred to in the HM Customs and Excise website as planned for inclusion in the compliance costs programme of research. [21785]

Mr. Boateng: Customs and Excise planned to follow their study on VAT with studies into the compliance costs of Customs procedures for international trade and of Excise duties. The Revenue planned to follow the first year's study on corporation tax with a follow-up study, drawing on the earlier findings.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the dates on which the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise awarded the contracts for studies of the compliance costs to UK businesses of (a) corporation tax and (b) VAT. [21769]

Mr. Boateng: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Paymaster General to the hon. Member for Truro and St. Austell (Matthew Taylor) on 1 November 2001, Official Report, column 514W.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will publish (a) the emerging findings report and (b) the final reports of (i) the VAT compliance cost project and (ii) the corporation tax compliance cost project. [21771]

Mr. Boateng: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Paymaster General to the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Edward Davey) on 26 November 2001, Official Report, column 631W.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) which organisation has been awarded the contract from the Inland Revenue for a study of the compliance costs of corporation tax for UK businesses; what is the cost to public funds of that contract; and if he will make a statement; [21772]

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Mr. Boateng: The contracts were awarded to the social research division of BMRB International Ltd. in September 2000. Information on the costs of individual contracts is Commercial-in-Confidence.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state for the VAT inspections control programme for 2000–01 (a) the number of staff years used, (b) the running costs, (c) the additional tax discovered and (d) the unit cost ratio of cost to revenue. [24795]

Mr. Boateng: The information requested for the VAT inspections control programme 2000–01 is as follows:

(a) Total VAT staff years used figure is 5,162, including support staff.

(b) Running costs were £130 million, in terms of salary and expenses.

(c) Net additional tax of £2.3 billion discovered.

(d) The unit cost ratio is £1 cost: £17.69 net additional revenue.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many VAT-registered companies and individuals became insolvent following action by HM Customs and Excise in each year since 1997; how much outstanding VAT was recovered from these concerns after formal insolvency occurred; what was the cost to Customs and Excise of pursuing those investigations; and how many VAT registrations were effected after guarantees were sought because of previous insolvency action against persons in the new venture. [24806]

Mr. Boateng: The information is as follows:

1. Number of companies and individuals insolvent following Customs' action

Year ended 31 MarchCustoms bankruptcy/ winding up orders

2. Outstanding VAT recovered after formal insolvency occurred
£ million

PeriodAmount recovered
Year ended 31 December 199842
Year ended 31 December 199943
15 months ended 31 March 200064
Year ended 31 March 200156

3. Customs do not hold information specific to the cost of pursuing bankruptcy and winding-up orders and post- insolvency recovery. It is not cost effective to produce this information.

4. Customs do not maintain information on requirements of security explicitly due to a history of insolvency. The table that follows details the number of cases where security was obtained from traders considered to present a risk to the revenue. This includes instances of persons involved in previous insolvencies.

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Year ended 31 MarchTotal number of cases where security was obtained

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